Mental Health Clinic for Students Opens on Medical Campus

Twice-a-week Behavioral Medicine services

Some years ago, a School of Public Health survey reported that half of Medical Campus students had sought mental health care of some sort. That doesn’t surprise Kate Goodmon Nudel.

“Graduate students are under immense pressure and stress in school,” says Nudel (MED’16), “but also as adults. Many of us are married or have children or are planning to do that soon, while we are in school.” But until now, Medical Campus students needing to see Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine staff had to make their way to the Charles River Campus (CRC). Last week, Behavioral Medicine opened a satellite clinic on the Medical Campus exclusively for students, to run twice a week: Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Wednesdays, from 9 to 5. Two clinicians will staff the two offices and waiting room.

The clinic is on the eighth floor of the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center at 85 East Newton St., which is named for BU grad Fuller (MED 1897), the first black psychiatrist in the United States, who taught at BU and retired as a professor emeritus. The state-owned site was chosen with special care. While close to all the Medical Campus schools, it provides privacy from other BU student and clinical services, so “students won’t have to worry about bumping into a staff or faculty member from their program,” says Carrie Landa, director of Behavioral Medicine.

Besides SPH, the Medical Campus houses the School of Medicine and the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Students there who have wanted to use the CRC Behavioral Medicine services couldn’t always manage it “because of long days and nights in the hospital and the additional time getting back and forth to the CRC,” says Karen Antman, dean of MED and provost of the Medical Campus.

“This is an effort we have been pushing for many years, and we are delighted to see it come to fruition,” adds Linda Hyman, associate provost for MED’s Division of Graduate Medical Sciences.

Landa says that the clinic will provide “evaluation and brief treatment for students,” similar to what their counterparts receive on the CRC. “When longer-term treatment is indicated, we work with the student to provide a referral to a provider in the community, based on their insurance.”

“I am thrilled that all of our hard work has been recognized and our voices heard,” says Nudel. She was on the board of the Graduate and Professional Leadership Council, a student liaison group with the University’s administration, which formed a committee in spring 2014 to advocate for the clinic. The committee initially wanted a general health clinic; when that proved too ambitious, the members surveyed Medical Campus students for their priorities.

With more than 400 respondents, “we found students wanted a behavioral health clinic” most, says Nudel. Angela Jackson, MED associate dean of student affairs, says the interest at her school arises from “the stress and demands of medical school—long hours, heavy study schedule, high-stakes exams, not to mention seeing tragedy, death, and suffering on a daily basis.”

Jackson adds that “having access to care on site will make an enormous difference to the students and provide another accessible option for mental health care.…I suspect the interest will be huge, and very quickly we will need to expand the clinic’s hours.”

Indeed, Nudel says, the student group’s health survey found that 65 percent of respondents said they’d avail themselves of on-campus mental health services, leading her to predict that the new clinic “will be pretty busy.”

This BU Today story was written by Rich Barlow.